So I'm afraid I have no grand stories to tell of UN negotiations or the like this week but it being my last week in Montanita thought I'd best fill you in before I hit the road and have no idea where my next wifi hotspot will be!
Had a chilled out weekend which included a trip to the thermal spas in Baños San Vincente which is about an hour south from Montanita. It was a proper school trip with a hired coach etc and of course I sat at the back, although this time round we had cubre libres instead of panda pops (would school trips have been more interesting this way?!) The 'spa' is quite a loose description, nothing like what you would expect in England, so not a lot to look at but set in the crater of a dwarf volcano and basically consists of a series of pools, all geothermally heated and is renowned for it's MUD. Oh yes this mud got everywhere! You sit in a pool, you get covered in mud. You have a massage and get covered in mud. And let's just say the masseurs were none too shy where they put said mud! But a great day out, with a natural jacuzzi to finish - there was no bottom to this jacuzzi, as the naturally hot, bubbling water just came straight up from the centre of the earth through a series of caves! KK - reminded me of the blue lagoon in Iceland!
Anyways, decided to volunteer in the afternoons this week so that I could help with the after school club and so pleased I did as the kids are amazing. For someone who is usually scared of such creatures I completely fell in love, they are so happy to do anything and just want to learn. We basically just walk around the aquarium and they point out things they want to know the words of in English and laugh at my posh accent, don't know what they could possibly mean! I also got invited to a community meeting where they discussed the plans for the new aquarium, wish I had my camera with me that day as I was the only woman in a battered old room full of old ecuadorian men, not something you see everyday. I had to sign the register of attendance too so a little bit of me is there in the history of the new aquarium which, thanks to last weeks inspection, will hopefully begin reconstruction in December. I hope I can go back and check on it one day.
And that's about it from Montanita! I am mostly writing this blog for my friends and family but I know people might be checking it out for tips on places they may travel to so here are my Montanita do's and don'ts!
Best music - Caña Grill
Special mention to Kieran the rock star from Manchester, but the band is just awesome anyway.
Best bar - Maholo's
I really liked the chilled out vibe here and it has a pool table and a crazy bartender who let's you change the music on his iPod!
Best wine and wifi - Tiki Limbo
It takes forever to get served but you can surf the Internet all day on one purchase and they serve the wine in boats!
Best place to stay - Las Cabañas
They may be affiliated with the school but it is the best place to stay as just outside of town so not nearly as noisy as I imagine the other hostels must be and everyone is super friendly, great vibe.
Best food -Wipeout
A great little place by the church, just tucked away from the main hustle and bustle. Takes a while for food but it's amazing and you can get cheap deals from the board out the front.
Best shop - Walmart
Not sure what this is actually called but what we all know it as, again near the church and has everything you could possibly need with helpful staff.
Best day trips - get on a bus!
Although I did some organised trips such as Isla de la plata and horse riding in Dos Mangos, which were both great, I recommend just hopping on a local bus and seeing where you end up!
Don't dive - not just cos I had a bad experience but there really aren't any good dive sights nearby and is very overpriced.
Don't sign up for too long at the school - although I do recommend the Montanita spanish school, I have discovered it is quite expensive compared to other places and it's very difficult to get your money back if you pay upfront for your full term. There is only so much information you can take in so take it (and pay for it) week by week.
And I guess that's it, I'm off to get drunk for the rest of the week in all probability in true Montanita style! Chao for now!